Final Rules Offer Greater Testing Flexibility
Federal regulations on special education may help schools make AYP.
The Department of Education released final regulations last week to guide the creation of tests for students in special education who are capable of learning grade-level content, but not as quickly as their peers.
The only options now available for such students are to take the general assessments given to all students, which may be too difficult, or tests intended for students with significant cognitive impairments, which are too easy. The new tests will allow a more accurate assessment of what this middle group of students knows and how best to teach them, Deputy Secretary of Education Raymond J. Simon said.
With such tests, some schools and districts that previously had not made adequate yearly progress under the No Child Left Behind Act might do so. Under the regulations, states and districts can count the proficient and advanced scores of students who take “alternate assessments based on modified achievement standards” for the purposes of determining AYP under the law, as long as those tests don’t exceed 2 percent of all students assessed. Two percent of all students equals about 20 percent of students with disabilities. The Education Department also allows up to 1 percent of all students in a state—equivalent to 10 percent of students with disabilities—to take a different type of alternate assessment and be counted as proficient for purposes of AYP. Those tests, which are the ones used with students with significant cognitive impairments, are...
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